Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Olallie Lake, Alpine Lake Wilderness

talapus lake trail
Talapus Lake Trail

Everything is coming together this year in my quest to be an alpine lake ninja. I acquired three critical pieces of equipment (GPS, a Trail Boat and 7pc packable flyrod). I trained all winter long so I'm in better shape than I usually am (which isn't saying much).

Talapus Lake
Talapus Lake, on the way to Olallie

Sunday was a milestone: my first ever solo backpacking / fishing trip. First ever? It's true; Amy and I have been together 17 years (basically all my adult life) so the few camping trips I've done have been with her. Or with Casey.

me and my pack

Here's a picture of me with my 45lb pack. 45 pounds??? Yes more on that in a minute. After a lot of thinking, I chose Olallie Lake as a destination; its close, relatively easy and I've never been there before.


The hike itself isn't too bad. However, with a 45 pound pack the 3.5 miles and 1,100 feet of vertical gain felt like a LOT more. I was glad to get to Olallie and set that pack down. Being a summer weekend, the best camping spots at the lake were taken, but I found a pretty good one.

Claiming my campsite

After setting up camp, I inflated my trail boat and puttered around the lake. I caught fish after fish but they were all less than 6" long; resident wild rainbows.

A solitary dead tree in a field of flowers

I got wet getting out of my boat -- I'm much more careful not to pop it after last time. Cloud after cloud rolled in and my wet pants never dried. In fact, soon everything in my camp was wet with the moisture of the passing fog banks. I shivered all night in my tent.

Wet Woods

I learned several important things on my exploratory trip. Mainly that 45lbs is too much to carry comfortably. The 3 person tent is not just too heavy (6 lbs), its also too big; it felt cavernous and cold. The two person sleeping bag is also too heavy (4 lbs) and too big.

I got home and immediately started cataloging my gear and researching lighter replacements. It appears that one can spend as much money on going lighter as they want to, but I've decided to compromise; I've spent $100 on a new tent and a new sleeping bag and that will save 5lbs on my next trip. See, I could have spent $500 to save 7lbs.

Stay tuned for more, better reports.


  1. Back in my Boy Scout days, I spent several summers working on the Talapus Lake trail. As part of my certification, I laid out the trail from Talapus to Ollalie. We used a meter to gauge that the trail wasn't getting too steep. We followed the Forest Service guidelines for building the trails and bridges too. My brother Randy was on the bridge building crew, I headed up the trail crews. The CAC leader's name was Edwin Thomson. I'm glad to see the trails are in use and being used to explore the beautiful country. Regards, Tom Barnes

  2. I was also part of the CAC. I was crew chief for the bridge building crew. I also lead the crew who built the trail across the rocky section of the trail after the Forest Service blasted the rock into smaller pieces. For all the work Ed Thomson put into building the trail, it would be nice if there was a small information plaque sharing his contributions. I also worked on the McClellan Butte trail a few times. It would be nice to here from you Tom. I think I started with Ed after you. David Paul